Eight days a week


I got an email this morning that opened with, “Hey David, I’m on vacation this week. . .”

It was shorter than his usual and he wrote it, he said, “from the beach” in Atlantic City, but it struck me that if he was on vacation, he shouldn’t be writing to me—or anyone.

But who am I to talk?

I rarely take vacations, and when I do, I bring work with me. I don’t always do the work but I like knowing I could.

When I worked at an office, I usually brought a file or two home with me for the weekend.

And there were plenty of Saturdays when I was back in the office, sometimes half-day, sometimes all day. I got a lot of dictation done with the phones quiet and nobody else around. I would have worked Sundays, too, but the air conditioning was off.

Poor me.

Can you relate?

Why do we do it? Why are we always working?

Yeah, we’re busy, we’ve got bills to pay, goals to achieve.

But also because we see hard work as a virtue and time off as an indulgence.

But it’s not. We’re not machines. We need time off.

We need time to rest our bodies and our minds, to play and enjoy the fruits of our hard work. We need time away from from demanding clients, deadlines, and overwhelming inboxes.

Even if we love every minute of our work, we need time off. We don’t necessarily need long breaks, but we need something.

When we push ourselves to keep working, when we rely on willpower and negative reinforcement, we reach a point of diminishing returns. We might get more work done, but the quality of that work often suffers.

So does our emotional well-being.

Go for a walk this afternoon. Take the weekend off. Put your vacation back on calendar.

And when you take that vacation, don’t bring any work with you and don’t send me an email.

Read a book and enjoy the fresh air. The work will be there when you get back.